Storytime: Dryer

Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: warmth in cycles.

My head lolls back, bonking softly against the thin metal door of the dryer. The clothing inside swirls. The thrum of the cloth as it ricochets inside the bin is steady and solid. Bang. They hit the top of the drum. Smack. They slam back to the bottom. Laying against it, I can close my eyes and I can almost imagine someone is here with me. Heat radiating from inside its depths like the heat off of someone skin, the noise of clothing wracking around inside mimicking a heartbeat, consistent and dependable. Something I need more than anything else now.

I let my limbs pool beside me. I let the tears fall and I wait for the dryer to stop. I wait for everything to stop.

I’m waiting for a call. I’m waiting for something to change. I’m scared that I’ve made a big mistake and that mistake has spiraled out inside a hundred smaller mistakes and its left me here, 3000 miles away from the place I’m supposed to have been all along. The mistake was wanting. The mistake was leaving. The mistake was living.

The thing is that it’s lonely down here. With me, and the dryer. It’s lonely and empty and sad. Waiting for a call from someone to tell me the only person I like in a 500 mile radius is still alive. Cut off. That’s what they’d call it. I’m cut off from other humans. I left my hometown, I left my high school friends, I left my college friends, and this is my penance now. Poor, sad, and seeking warmth from a machine.

The machine buzzes, the cycle ends, and now I don’t even have that. Now it’s just me laying against a cooling metal door, waiting to be consumed by my fear. Waiting for a call with bad news I won’t be able to fight against.

The truth is there’s no one left to call. I haven’t told anyone how bad things are and instead I lay on the floor in my house, as far away from the bedroom as possible before I cry. I hope no one can hear me because I want to alone with this weight. I want to feel it crushing me. I never talk about how sick my boyfriend is, I never tell anyone how we can’t afford gas or food, I never ask for help and I never expect anyone to care. No one cared before, I remind myself, no one will care now.

Maybe if he dies, this time, maybe this time someone will care. Someone will notice. Someone will help. But it keeps happening and nothing changes. Round and round.

I thought it was different this time. That I had changed the game. The truth is getting someone to love you is the easy part, it’s all the things that follow after that make it so damn difficult to keep going on. Or maybe I just keep meeting people who don’t work right. Like I don’t work right.

I slam my body against the dryer. I hit the button and listen to the motor rev up behind me. Around and around. The surface warms. My body warms.

Maybe if I just try again it’ll work this time. I don’t have to tell people all of the things but maybe if I tell them something they’ll understand. I stare at the phone in my hand for a long time wondering who to call. No one lives anywhere near me, they’re all equally estranged from my space. That feels familiar too.

When I hear the voice on the other end of the line, instead of saying something good I just start crying. And he lets me cry. He tells me he had no idea how bad it was, he tells me he knows we aren’t very good friends but I can chat with him online until the call come through. I start to cry again because I don’t want to leave behind the dryer, I don’t want to leave its warmth and its safety and sadness. He laughs a little because he doesn’t know if I’m serious.

Around and around. He says, just get up off the floor and I’ll stay with you. He says, I know it’ll be okay. He says, I’m here.

And that’s true too. There is always someone there, even if they can’t do what I want. Even if they only ever wrap themselves around me or seek their comfort in it, there is always someone there. Never really as alone as it seems.

I step away from the dryer and the air is not as cold as it seemed before.

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